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U.S. cites WDG Construction of Wesley Chapel on safety issue

WESLEY CHAPEL — Federal labor officials say a local contractor violated safety standards last year by failing to provide employees with protection from cave-ins while they worked in trenches.

Wesley Chapel-based WDG Construction faces $119,000 in possible fines for seven safety violations noted in July and August at two construction sites, said the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The two construction sites involved the installation of water mains in the Wesley Chapel area, OSHA spokesman Michael Wald said in an interview. He did not have additional information on the projects.

Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa, said in a news release, "These proposed penalties reflect the seriousness of the dangers faced by employees and management's indifference to their employees' safety."

Wald said trench work is recognized as one of construction's most dangerous activities, primarily because of the risk of cave-ins, and OSHA has been stepping up its enforcement on such operations.

Officials at WDG, a prominent, 22-year-old site development company that reported more than $70-million in revenue in 2006, did not return a phone message left late Friday afternoon.

OSHA said its inspectors found that material excavated from a trench was placed too close to the edge, making it possible for the soil to fall back into the trench where employees were working.

WDG was cited for a similar violation following a 2007 inspection. The company settled in that case, paying $15,469 instead of the original $20,625 worth of fines proposed by OSHA.

Wald said the 2007 case is the only other one involving the company.

The current case also involves such violations as failure to control water from seeping in trenches, not providing proper ladders for employees working in the trenches, not training employees to recognize unsafe conditions, and failing to instruct employees in ladder safety, according to the news release.

WDG has 15 days to decide whether it wants to contest the violations before an independent commission, pay the fines or ask for a settlement.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

U.S. cites WDG Construction of Wesley Chapel on safety issue 01/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 10:45pm]
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